The United States Embassy in Botswana has warned of an increase in scams involving the US visa.
A press statement from the U.S. Embassy states that widespread Diversity Visa (DV) e-mail scam by con-artists instructs its recipients to send money through Western Union to a phony person at the U.S. Embassy in London.
The embassy says it has received a large number of enquiries from Batswana who have received the false emails and adds that the scam appears to be a worldwide crisis.
“The Diversity Lottery program is an annual lottery run by the U.S. Department of State. The DV Lottery offers up to 55,000 permanent resident visas each year to randomly selected applicants from eligible countries. The Lottery is run once a year, usually in October, and qualified applicants are randomly chosen by computer,” U.S. embassy public affairs officer, John Warner, said.
However for participation in the DV lottery, entrants will not be asked to send money through to any US embassy or consulate. The Department of State’s Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) does not send emails to DV participants informing them of their winning entries. Instead participants are notified by letters.
At the time of the visa application at a U.S. consular office, each applicant (the DV entrant and any accompanying family members) will be charged a DV processing fee and immigrant visa fee. Both of these fees are non-refundable even if the visa is refused.
Other organizations using similar names have no connection to the Department of State or KCC, Warner said.
Many Batswana are interested in making short trips to the U.S. either for business, vacation, to visit family, study or even work there, so before travelling they are required to obtain a non-immigrant visa permit for temporary stay or for permanent residence based on the purpose of travel.
Warner explained that the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone processes only non-immigrant visas while immigrant visas are processed in the Consulate General in Johannesburg.
“All visa applicants are encouraged to plan ahead and allow enough time to complete the process well in advance of their planned travel. Regarding the DV program, this message was not sent by the U.S. Department of State, it is a scam and everyone must be cautious,” Warner said.
“In addition we have posted a Fraud Alert on our website. The only official way to register for the DV program is directly through the official U.S. Department of State website during the specified, limited-time registration period,” he added.